Mario Pavone

Totem Blues

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Bassist/composer Mario Pavone assembles a diverse and highly qualified team for this stunning octet disc: tenor saxophonists Jimmy Greene and George Sovak, alto and soprano saxophonist Mike DiRubbo, trombonists Art Baron and Peter McEachern, pianist Peter Madsen, and drummer Matt Wilson. (Interestingly, Madsen and Wilson are Pavone's colleagues in the Nu Trio, so the octet can be understood as a logical expansion of the trio.) Pavone's rhythmically intense, dissonant, free-leaning compositional approach is well-served by the many horns, particularly the expressive, even boisterous trombones, which give the session a certain Mingus-like flavor. Three of the tracks -- "Bass Song," "New Socks," and "Poet O Central Park" (the last by the late Thomas Chapin) -- have appeared on CDs by the Motion Poets; their inclusion here as octet arrangements will prove of particular interest to devotees of Pavone's music. Other highlights include "Otic," with its winding unisons and deep, implied-funk feel, and "Totem," with its muted trombones and recurring staccato eighth-note motif. Pavone spurs these fine musicians to play beyond themselves. The music that pours forth is both joyous and serious, abrasive and complex, yet entirely inviting.

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